Today, Gail Kittleson visits the Wednesday Writers blog with some very interesting background on her newest upcoming World War II release, Until Then. She also has an excerpt that caught my attention. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well. Welcome, Gail!
War divides nations and isolates people, but also brings individuals together in remarkable ways.
Millions of Allied troops listened to popular music during World War II. “Keep smiling through, a phrase from the song Until Then, became a motto, and if anyone had reason to subscribe to this philosophy, it was Dorothy Woebbeking, a nurse from Waterloo, Iowa.
I met my heroine’s daughter on Pinterest when we “pinned” some of the same WWII nurse photos. We began to correspond, and the more I discovered about her mother, the more I knew this story was a must-write.
The horrific Battle of the Kasserine Pass in North Africa? Dorothy was there with the Eleventh Evacuation Hospital. The endless agony at Anzio? Dorothy was there.
The Battle of the Bulge? Dorothy served those battle-weary troops, too. She earned no less than six World War II theater ribbons. Visiting her home in Illinois, I touched her helmet, her radio, studied her service record, and read the Florence Nightingale pledge she took so seriously. Dorothy’s daughter eventually helped me name this novel.
At the same time, another wartime situation gripped me. When Dorothy was beginning her service, the worst civilian tragedy in England occurred in a London tube station. Neither story would let me go, so my challenge became to thread them together.
My research deepened a sense of amazement at the tremendous sacrifices made by medical staff in their trek behind American troops across North Africa, through Sicily, up the boot of Italy, and northward through France and into Germany.
Even a few years ago, I knew nothing about the tube station tragedy, but my husband and I viewed the memorial last year when we visited England for our fortieth anniversary. Now I hold the victims and survivors in my heart and believe the sufferings of this generation must not be forgotten.
PHOTO of tube station victims. CAPTION: Listing of victims at Memorial
I hope readers find new appreciation for the Greatest Generation and their tremendous sacrifices.
This book will release in June, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and will be available on amazon.com bn.com itunes kobo.com scribd.com smashwords.com and other sites. I will post the purchase links on my blog as soon as possible. (http://www.gailkittleson.com/)
Excerpt from Until Then:
The sparkling Mediterranean beckoned, so Dorothy tore across the beach and plunged in. After swimming the safety zone and back, she dropped down beside Millie, who leaned her head back.
“What a perfect day!”
“Out here, you’d never know how close the war is.” As Dorothy dried her hair, a tall redheaded pilot approached with a towel slung over his shoulders. He dipped his head and saluted.
“Houston Pinkstone, here—they call me Pinky. And you ladies are?”
“Millie and Dorothy.” Millie answered for them both, and Dorothy took in this fellow’s jovial smile.
“Nurses with the Eleventh Evac, I presume?”
“How did you guess? And you’re RAF?”
“Ah, ‘twas my hair that gave me away…” His grin highlighted his dimples.
“Quite the sunburn you’re developing.” Millie’s comment teased out another smile.
“One day soon, this will peel into the best tan in all of Scotland. Of course, it may be years before I get back there.”
His freckled nose and forehead, also burned, brought out the sea shades of his eyes as he turned to Dorothy. “Where did you learn to swim like that?”
“In the Cedar River back home in Iowa. The mud held me up when my brothers tried to drown me.”
“Jolly good. Here, the salt water attends to that, righto?” He pointed out to sea. “See the chap out there in that boat? Why not swim there? Maybe he’ll invite you in.”
“He’s past the safety line.”
“But you’re a strong swimmer, and he’s there to save you.” The dare in his eyes proved irresistible. In spite of the warning written all over Millie’s face, Dorothy took him on and jogged to the shoreline.
In minutes, she grabbed the rowboat’s worn gunnel, and a dark-haired, mustached occupant greeted her in an unfamiliar accent. “Lovely day, Miss. You must be with the American hospital unit?”
She answered his questions about her background, but when she asked about him, he merely squinted into the sun. He looked at least forty, with a bit of white above his ears. Seeing he had no intention of inviting her in, Dorothy swam back to Millie and the pilot, who chatted about Delbert, also a pilot.
Dorothy waited for a pause and asked, “Did you think he would ask me in?”
Pinky’s robust laugh declared good-natured trickery. “I had no idea, but thought finding out a worthy quest. You have encountered royalty, my friend.”
“You just passed the time of day with King Zog of Albania. When the Italians invaded in ’39, he fled his country with his wife and son. He’d already become a pilot, and once he got his family settled in old Blighty, he joined the RAF.”
Maybe he was still joking—his laughing eyes made it impossible to tell. Dorothy circled her hair with a towel and settled on the welcoming sand, but Millie stared at Pinky in wonderment.
“The King of Albania?” Her shocked expression could have sold for thousands of dollars. “Blighty?”
“Our most affectionate term for old England, dear.” Pinky ignored her other inquiry as he surveyed the Mediterranean. “Strange how this war brings us all together, kings and paupers alike.”
About the Author
Gail writes from northern Iowa, where she and her husband enjoy grandchildren, gardening and historical documentaries. After instructing college writing classes, Gail gave in to the writing bug.
Eight novels later, she’s hopelessly addicted to the World War II era. Her historical fiction honors Greatest Generation women who made a difference despite great odds.
Gail facilitates writing workshops and retreats, where she enjoys guiding and cheering others on in their endeavors.